Archive for the 'Articles' Category

29
Apr
10

Dr. Daniel Pipes: My Peace Plan: An Israeli Victory

National Post
April 29, 2010

http://www.danielpi pes.org/8309/ my-peace- plan-an-israeli- victory

[DP note: The title is slightly changed]

This month, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak declared that Israel must withdraw from Palestinian territories. “The world isn’t willing to accept — and we won’t change that in 2010 — the expectation that Israel will rule another people for decades more,” he said. “It’s something that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.”

Is he right? Is peace even possible? And if so, what form should a final agreement take? Those are the questions we asked National Post writers in our series “What’s Your Peace Plan?”

Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister.

My peace plan is simple: Israel defeats its enemies.

Victory uniquely creates circumstances conducive to peace. Wars end, the historical record confirms, when one side concedes defeat and the other wins. This makes intuitive sense, for so long as both sides aspire to achieve their ambitions, fighting continues or it potentially can resume.

The goal of victory is not exactly something novel. Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese strategist, advised that in war, “Let your great object be victory.” Raimondo Montecuccoli, a seventeenth- century Austrian, said that “The objective in war is victory.” Carl von Clausewitz, a nineteenth-century Prussian, added that “War is an act of violence to compel the enemy to fulfill our will.” Winston Churchill told the British people: “You ask: what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory – victory – at all costs, victory, in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be.” Dwight D. Eisenhower observed that “In war, there is no substitute for victory.” These insights from prior eras still hold, for however much weaponry changes, human nature remains the same.

Victory means imposing one’s will on the enemy, compelling him to abandon his war goals. Germans, forced to surrender in World War I, retained the goal of dominating Europe and a few years later looked to Hitler to achieve this goal. Signed pieces of paper matter only if one side has cried “Uncle”: The Vietnam War ostensibly concluded through diplomacy in 1973 but both sides continued to seek their war aims until the North won ultimate victory in 1975.

Willpower is the key: shooting down planes, destroying tanks, exhausting munitions, making soldiers flee, and seizing land are not decisive in themselves but must be accompanied by a psychological collapse. North Korea’s loss in 1953, Saddam Hussein’s in 1991, and the Iraqi Sunni loss in 2003 did not translate into despair. Conversely, the French gave up in Algeria in 1962, despite out-manning and out-gunning their foes, as did the Americans in Vietnam in 1975 and the Soviets in Afghanistan in 1989. The Cold War ended without a fatality. In all these cases, the losers maintained large arsenals, armies, and functioning economies. But they ran out of will.

Likewise, the Arab-Israeli conflict will be resolved only when one side gives up.

Until now, through round after round of war, both sides have retained their goals. Israel fights to win acceptance by its enemies, while those enemies fight to eliminate Israel. Those goals are raw, unchanging, and mutually contradictory. Israel’s acceptance or elimination are the only states of peace. Each observer must opt for one solution or the other. A civilized person will want Israel to win, for its goal is defensive, to protect an existing and flourishing country. Its enemies’ goal of destruction amounts to pure barbarism.

For nearly 60 years, Arab rejectionists, now joined by Iranian and leftist counterparts, have tried to eliminate Israel through multiple strategies: they work to undermine its legitimacy intellectually, overwhelm it demographically, isolate it economically, restrain its defenses diplomatically, fight it conventionally, demoralize it with terror, and threaten to destroy it with WMDs. While the enemies of Israel have pursued their goals with energy and will, they have met few successes.

Ironically, Israelis over time responded to the incessant assault on their country by losing sight of the need to win. The right developed schemes to finesse victory, the center experimented with appeasement and unilateralism, and the left wallowed in guilt and self-recrimination. Exceedingly few Israelis understand the unfinished business of victory, of crushing the enemy’s will and getting him to accept the permanence of the Jewish state.

Fortunately for Israel, it need only defeat the Palestinians, and not the entire Arab or Muslim population, which eventually will follow the Palestinian lead in accepting Israel. Fortunately too, although the Palestinians have built an awesome reputation for endurance, they can be beaten. If the Germans and Japanese could be forced to give up in 1945 and the Americans in 1975, how can Palestinians be exempt from defeat?

The United Nations Security Council, one factor extending the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Of course, Israel faces obstacles in achieving victory. The country is hemmed in generally by international expectations (from the United Nations Security Council, for example) and specifically by the policies of its main ally, the U.S. government. Therefore, if Jerusalem is to win, that starts with a change in policy in the United States and in other Western countries. Those governments should urge Israel to seek victory by convincing the Palestinians that they have lost.

This means undoing the perceptions of Israel’s weakness that grew during the Oslo process (1993-2000) and then the twin withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza (2000-05). Jerusalem appeared back on track during Ariel Sharon’s first three years as prime minister, 2001-03 and his tough stance then marked real progress in Israel’s war effort. Only when it became clear in late 2004 that Sharon really did plan to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza did the Palestinian mood revive and Israel stopped winning. Ehud Olmert’s debilitating prime ministry has been only partially remedied by Binyamin Netanyahu over the past year.

Ironically, an Israeli victory would bring yet greater benefits to the Palestinians than to Israel. Israelis would benefit by being rid of an atavistic war, to be sure, but their country is a functioning, modern society. For Palestinians, in contrast, abandoning the fetid irredentist dream of eliminating their neighbor would finally offer them a chance to tend their own misbegotten garden, to develop their deeply deficient polity, economy, society, and culture.

Thus does my peace plan both end the war and bring unique benefits to all directly involved.

Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

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28
Apr
10

Phyllis Chesler: The Palestinians Already Have Two States

April 15th, 2010 10:34 am

The Palestinians Already Have Two States: The Truth According to Khaled Abu Toameh

The Real War is Palestinian vs. Palestinian

The world has gone mad—or at least, the American leadership has now formally joined the Islamist and international madness about “peace in the Middle East.”

President Obama has just claimed that American “vital national security” is linked to finding—or even imposing—peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. South Africa’s revered Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu, has just praised the recent Berkeley student vote (which the university’s president later vetoed) to divest university money from companies that “profit from the injustice of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land in violation of Palestinian human rights.” Tutu writes that what he witnessed in occupied Palestinian territory reminds him of the conditions he “experienced in South Africa under the racist system of apartheid.”

Tutu—this is really too much! Who exactly gave you a tour of the territories? The usual diabolically skilled propagandists? Did you, perchance, bother to visit Israel? If not, why not?

I strongly recommend that both President Obama and Archbishop Tutu consult with Khaled Abu Toameh, an Israeli Arab Muslim/Palestinian journalist whom I was privileged to hear speak the other night in Manhattan. Abu Toameh lives in Jerusalem and he really “gets it.” He is a charming, urbane man, who speaks English perfectly; I assume he speaks Arabic and Hebrew just as well.

Abu Toameh used to work for the PLO newspaper as a translator and fledgling journalist, then attended Hebrew University, and decided that he wanted to be a real journalist, not a mere propagandist. That meant working for an Israeli newspaper where “freedom of the press” is respected. Abu Toameh confirmed that journalists and distinguished visitors to the “territories” cannot just go anywhere on their own; they risk being barred from future visits or even death if they report something that the various Palestinian militias do not want the world to know. “All the news is controlled in Gaza and on the West Bank.”

Archbishop, President, are you listening?

Abu Toameh began working for the Jerusalem Post in 1988. He is not seen as a “traitor” for working for the free Israeli press in Jerusalem—but he has been attacked for doing so on campuses in California! He understands how fundamentalist and dangerous Hamas really is, and yet he reads that Hamas is becoming moderate—where? In Toronto’s Globe and Mail!

I urge—nay, I implore, I demand, that all those who keep talking about a “peace process” listen to what Abu Toameh has to say. I feel so strongly about this that I am presenting what he said, almost verbatim.

He spoke on the Upper West Side, at Aish HaTorah. Yes, an Orthodox Jewish religious center graciously gave Abu Toameh his platform and were very grateful to have him. Thus, the room usually reserved for religious services and study was precisely where the wry, ironic, witty Abu Toameh spoke. He is very much an Israeli–although not as hot-tempered as some, or as some Arabs.

First, Abu Toameh confirms that the worst possible thing for the Palestinian people were the various peace processes which were highly misguided, insincere, and unworkable. “Before the Oslo Accords, Palestinians had high hopes that we would have a democratic Parliament just as the Israelis do and a free media. Since Oslo, things have gone in the wrong direction.”

In Abu Toameh’s view, “Oslo was based on the assumption that Arafat and Fatah were reliable peace partners.” That was far from the case. Once Arafat was returned in triumph—“the show began, a one man show. Thirteen to fifteen militias roamed the streets. Most of the money given to Arafat for Palestine went down the drain, into secret Swiss bank accounts, and to his wife, Suha, in France. He built a casino—right across from a refugee camp.”

According to Abu Toameh, all those who were giving money to Arafat “simply refused to believe that he was corrupt.” Because Abu Toameh reported this, he was repeatedly asked if he was “on the payroll of the Jewish Lobby.” But, he said, it became more and more difficult to file stories abroad because “newspaper editors all wanted stories against the Occupation. They did not want to confuse their readers with facts.”

In his view, everyone was afraid to report the truth because Arafat and his goon squads would kill the truth tellers. Thus, Arafat and the mythic peace process embittered and “radicalized” the Palestinian people and they turned to Hamas, an Islamist organization funded by Iran. “People lost faith in the peace process.” Abu Toameh also confirmed that Arafat kept saying one thing in English about peace and in Arabic, kept inciting people against Israel.

Israeli President Shimon Peres defended Arafat. Peres refused to factor in what Arafat was saying in Arabic. Abu Toameh thought to himself: “How stupid can this man be? Doesn’t he know that Arafat is describing the Jews as the descendants of pigs and monkeys. Why make peace with the Jews if they are this terrible?”

And so, in 2006, Hamas won a democratic election—an election which was held under American supervision and which was strongly supported by both President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. Rice did not expect Hamas to win. Abu Toameh knew they would win; the people were angry at their hopeless situation at the hands of their own leaders. According to Abu Toameh, “Israel also facilitated the election of Hamas by allowing Arabs in Jerusalem to vote in that election. Israel did not know what every Palestinian child knew: That Hamas would win.”

And so now, Fatah has lost, Mahmoud Abbas cannot deliver peace nor can he make peace with Hamas. In turn, Hamas is not stepping down. Thus far, “this civil war among the Palestinians has so far claimed 2000 lives.”

Ironically, those who once clamored for a free and open election are now trying to bring down the duly elected with guns and bombs. Hamas kicked Fatah out of Gaza. Abu Toameh reports that he personally “saw Palestinians running away from Hamas towards Egypt, saw Egypt close the border to those in flight. Only Israel helped Muslims who were about to be slaughtered by Muslims.”

And so, wryly, ironically, Abu Toameh concludes: “We got our two-state solution. The Palestinians got two states. Hamas is funded by the Muslim Brotherhood, Syria, and Iran and I would not want to live there. The West Bank is being run by Arafat’s former cronies. But Mahmoud Abbas is afraid of his own people. I have not once seen him in a village. He has no credibility. He cannot deliver peace.

“If Israel withdraws from the West Bank, Hamas will take over. The IDF is keeping Abbas from being hung. Israel is also keeping Fatah and Hamas from killing each other. They hate each other more than they hate Israel.”

In his view, “we cannot move forward with a peace process. There is no Palestinian partner…Did you know? Mahmoud Abbas’s office expired in 2009 but Secretary of State Rice told him to simply stay on. Look: Abbas has lost control of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. Abbas is also seen as corrupt and ineffective. To whom will Abbas sell his peace agreement? Hamas will hang him at the entrance to Gaza, they will not wait.”

What does Abu Toameh suggest is the way forward?

“Dismantle all the Palestinian militias, start building Palestinian infra-structures, solve the Palestinian-Palestinian problems—and only then, sit down with the Jews. Obama thinks the ball is in the Israeli court. That is not true.”

Abu Toameh pauses, then says: “If I were Netanyahu, I would offer Palestinians ten states. Bring Obama over, ask him: To whom do I give the Palestinian states? To Hamas? Abbas? Islamic Jihad? He cautions Israel to be “careful about unilateral measures. Any land you give back, any land you give to Abbas, will end up in Iran’s hand. See how Gaza ended up. The same thing will repeat itself. The majority of Jews support the Palestinian state not because they love Palestinians but because they want to get rid of them.”

And then he issued a warning—to Israel which had nothing to do with two state solutions or with a peace process. “Israeli Arabs have been loyal to Israel. They are still discriminated against. No, Israel is not an apartheid state, but discrimination exists against 1.4 million of its own citizens. If Israel does not implement an emergency plan to solve this then the radicalization of the Israeli Arabs will explode. The next Intifada will be in Haifa, Umm al-Fahm, Nazareth, Rahat, Yaffo.”

President Obama: Please do not keep making the same mistakes that both your Republican and Democratic predecessors have made.

21
Apr
10

Inappropriate Use of the Fourth Geneva Convention

February 2, 2010 | Eli E. Hertz

In advising that Jewish settlements are illegal, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) went beyond its own mandate from the General Assembly without being asked to do so.

In paragraph 120 of the Court’s opinion [Advisory Opinion July 9 2004), the ICJ declares:

“The Court concludes that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.”

The ICJ based its conclusion on the inappropriate use of an article of the Fourth Geneva Convention which stipulates:

“The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

Once the ICJ has ‘established evidence’ that the West Bank and Gaza are unlawfully occupied territories, it then applies this status to the Fourth Geneva Conference de jure, stating in paragraph 120 of the opinion that:

“As regards these settlements, the Court notes that Article 49, paragraph 6, of the Fourth Geneva Convention provides: ‘The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.‘ [italic by author]

“In this respect, the information provided to the Court shows that, since 1977, Israel has conducted a policy and developed practices involving the establishment of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, contrary to the terms of Article 49, paragraph 6, just cited.” [italics by author]

One can hardly believe this baseless ICJ assertion that Israel used “deportation” and “forced transfer” of its own population into “occupied territories. ”

The Court unlawful attempts to broaden the definition of Article 49 to possibly ‘fit’ some wrong doing on the part of the State of Israel, all with no authority or reference to law, adding:

“That provision prohibits not only deportations or forced transfers of population such as those carried out during the Second World War, but also any measures taken by an occupying Power in order to organize or encourage transfers of parts of its own population into the occupied territory.” [italics by author]

In the above conclusion, the ICJ fails to disclose the content of the “information provided” (information the Court based its decision on), and the anonymous ‘authorities’ that provided such. Anyone interested in the subject at hand is aware of the difficulties the Israeli Government faces in its decision to relocate some Israeli settlements out of the “Territories, ” a fact that seems to be contrary to the “information provided” to the ICJ.

Professor Stone touches on the applicability of Article 49 of the Geneva Convention. Writing on the subject in 1980:

“That because of the ex iniuria principle, Jordan never had nor now has any legal title in the West Bank, nor does any other state even claim such title. Article 49 seems thus simply not applicable. (Even if it were, it may be added that the facts of recent voluntary settlements seem not to be caught by the intent of Article 49 which is rather directed at the forced transfer of the belligerent’ s inhabitants to the occupied territory, or the displacement of the local inhabitants, for other than security reasons.) The Fourth Geneva Convention applies only, according to Article 2, to occupation of territory belonging to ‘another High Contracting Party’; and Jordan cannot show any such title to the West Bank, nor Egypt to Gaza.”.

Support to Stone’s assertion can be found in Lauterpacht’ s writing in 1968:

“Thus Jordan’s occupation of the Old City-and indeed of the whole of the area west of the Jordan river-entirely lacked legal justification; and being defective in this way could not form any basis for Jordan validly to fill the sovereignty vacuum in the Old City [and whole of the area west of the Jordan River].”

Professor Rostow concludes that the Convention is not applicable to Israel’s legal position and notes:

“The opposition to Jewish settlements in the West Bank also relied on a legal argument – that such settlements violated the Fourth Geneva Convention forbidding the occupying power from transferring its own citizens into the occupied territories. How that Convention could apply to Jews who already had a legal right, protected by Article 80 of the United Nations Charter, to live in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, was never explained.”

It seems that the International Court of Justice “never explained” it either.

For more on the subject see: http://www.mythsand facts.org/ article_view. asp?articleID= 164

20
Apr
10

Hundreds of lawmakers urge Obama to take ‘punishing measures’ against Iran

Bridget Johnson and Russell Berman – The Hill,  April 14th, 2010

Congressional proponents of swift, tougher sanctions on Iran have finished gathering signatures on letters to President Barack Obama.

The letter recently recirculated by Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.) is being submitted to Obama with 363 House members’ signatures.

“Mr. President, you have stated this issue is a priority for your administration. You have attempted to engage the Iranian regime for over a year. You have gone to the United Nations Security Council in an effort to impose tough new sanctions on Iran. But time is not on our side,” the letter states.

“We cannot allow those who would oppose or delay sanctions to govern either the timing or content of our efforts,” it says, in reference to the lack of support at the Security Council by veto-wielders China and Russia.

The letter calls on Obama to “fulfill your June 2008 pledge that you would do ‘everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,’” to “rapidly” implement the sanctions legislation when it comes out of conference and use whatever presidential powers at his means to impose “punishing measures” on Tehran.

Jackson and Pence, along with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), as well as Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Dan Burton (R-Ind.), confirmed the culmination of their effort at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

“This is a moment where traditional loyalties and interests give way to the interests of the United States of America,” said Pence, who characterized the letter to Obama as “firm but respectful.”

“We are assuring the president of strong bipartisan support for tough and decisive measures,” Pence said. “We urge the president to move rapidly.”

“It has been the consistent policy of this administration and a consistent policy of this Congress that a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable,” Hoyer said. “We need to act. We need to act now, and we must act decisively.”

In the Senate, a similar letter circulated by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has gathered 76 signatures and was expected to be sent to Obama as early as Wednesday afternoon.

“Preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons remains a diplomatic imperative,” the letter states. “But time is not on the side of those who seek to prevent a nuclear Iran.

“… We urge you to move quickly to implement your existing authority on Iran and the legislation we send you, and to galvanize the international community to take immediate, substantive steps. Now is the time for action focused on preventing a nuclear Iran. We look forward to working with you on this important task.”

In December, the House approved 412-12 a measure enabling Obama to ban foreign firms that supply Iran with refined petroleum from doing business in the U.S. The Senate passed its own version of sanctions targeting Iran’s energy sector by voice vote on Jan. 28.

“I don’t think there is any other bill that is as important insofar as furthering U.S. national security interests as this bill,” Cantor said at the Wednesday press conference.

Cantor acknowledged Obama’s attempts to gain international consensus on resolutions at the United Nations, but noted that Congress was on “a separate track””It is of the utmost importance that this Congress act now and act decisively,” Cantor said. “There will be some teeth in these sanctions if all goes as planned.”

Cantor said he expected an announcement on a congressional schedule for action on sanctions on those doing business with Iran in the next couple of days.

18
Apr
10

Benny Morris: Obama is denying Israel the right to self-defense when it is not his, or America’s, life that is on the line.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-morris16-2010apr16,0,6295075.story

April 16, 2010

I take it personally: Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wants to murder me, my family and my people. Day in, day out, he announces the imminent demise of the “Zionist regime,” by which he means Israel. And day in, day out, his scientists and technicians are advancing toward the atomic weaponry that will enable him to bring this about.

The Jews of Europe (and Poles, Russians, Czechs, the French, etc.) should likewise have taken personally Adolf Hitler’s threats and his serial defiance of the international community from 1933 to 1939. But he was allowed, by the major powers and the League of Nations, to flex his muscles, rearm, remilitarize the Rhineland and then gobble up neighboring countries. Had he been stopped before the invasion of Poland and the start of World War II, the lives of many millions, Jews and Gentiles, would have been saved. But he wasn’t.

And it doesn’t look like Ahmadinejad will be either. Not by the United States and the international community, at any rate. President Obama, when not obsessing over the fate of the ever- aggrieved Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, proposes to halt Ahmadinejad’s nuclear program by means of international sanctions. But here’s the paradox: The wider Obama casts his net to mobilize as many of the world’s key players as he can, the weaker the sanctions and the more remote their implementation. China, it appears, will only agree to a U.N. Security Council resolution if the sanctions are diluted to the point of meaninglessness (and maybe not even then). The same appears to apply to the Russians. Meanwhile, Iran advances toward the bomb. Most of the world’s intelligence agencies believe that it is only one to three years away.

Perhaps Obama hopes to unilaterally implement far more biting American (and, perhaps, European) sanctions. But if China and Russia (and some European Union members) don’t play ball, the sanctions will remain ineffective. And Iran will continue on its deadly course.

At the end of 2007, the U.S. intelligence community, driven by wishful thinking, expediency and incompetence, announced that the Iranians had in 2003 halted the weaponization part of their nuclear program. Last week, Obama explicitly contradicted that assessment. At least the American administration now publicly acknowledges where it is the Iranians are headed, while not yet acknowledging what it is they are after — primarily Israel’s destruction.

Granted, Obama has indeed tried to mobilize the international community for sanctions. But it has been a hopeless task, given the selfishness and shortsightedness of governments and peoples. Sanctions were supposed to kick in in autumn 2009; then it was December; now it is sometime late this year. Obama is still pushing the rock up the hill — and Ahmadinejad, understandably, has taken to publicly scoffing at the West and its “sanctions.”

He does this because he knows that sanctions, if they are ever passed, are likely to be toothless, and because the American military option has been removed from the table. Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates — driven by a military that feels overstretched in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and a public that has no stomach for more war — have made this last point crystal clear.

But at the same time, Obama insists that Israel may not launch a preemptive military strike of its own. Give sanctions a chance, he says. (Last year he argued that diplomacy and “engagement” with Tehran should be given a chance. Tehran wasn’t impressed then and isn’t impressed now.) The problem is that even if severe sanctions are imposed, they likely won’t have time to have serious effect before Iran succeeds at making a bomb.

Obama is, no doubt, well aware of this asymmetric timetable. Which makes his prohibition against an Israeli preemptive strike all the more immoral. He knows that any sanctions he manages to orchestrate will not stop the Iranians. (Indeed, Ahmadinejad last week said sanctions would only fortify Iran’s resolve and consolidate its technological prowess.) Obama is effectively denying Israel the right to self-defense when it is not his, or America’s, life that is on the line.

Perhaps Obama has privately resigned himself to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and believes, or hopes, that deterrence will prevent Tehran from unleashing its nuclear arsenal. But what if deterrence won’t do the trick? What if the mullahs, believing they are carrying out Allah’s will and enjoy divine protection, are undeterred?

The American veto may ultimately consign millions of Israelis, including me and my family, to a premature death and Israel to politicide. It would then be comparable to Britain and France’s veto in the fall of 1938 of the Czechs defending their territorial integrity against their rapacious Nazi neighbors. Within six months, Czechoslovakia was gobbled up by Germany.

But will Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu follow in Czech President Edvard Benes’ footsteps? Will he allow an American veto to override Israel’s existential interests? And can Israel go it alone, without an American green (or even yellow) light, without American political cover and overflight permissions and additional American equipment? Much depends on what the Israeli military and intelligence chiefs believe their forces — air force, navy, commandos — can achieve. Full destruction of the Iranian nuclear project? A long-term delay? And on how they view Israel’s ability (with or without U.S. support) to weather the reaction from Iran and its proxies, Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria.

An Israeli attack might harm U.S. interests and disrupt international oil supplies (though I doubt it would cause direct attacks on U.S. installations, troops or vessels). But, from the Israeli perspective, these are necessarily marginal considerations when compared with the mortal hurt Israel and Israelis would suffer from an Iranian nuclear attack. Netanyahu’s calculations will, in the end, be governed by his perception of Israel’s existential imperatives. And the clock is ticking.

Benny Morris is the author of many books about the Middle East conflict, including, most recently, “1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War.”

15
Apr
10

Jonathan Tobin — The Times Makes It Official: Obama Has Shifted U.S. Policy Against Israel

Commentary Contentions blog,

Jonathan Tobin – 04.15.2010

If there were any lingering doubts in the minds of Democrats who care about Israel that the president they helped elect has fundamentally altered American foreign policy to the Jewish state’s disadvantage, they are now gone. The New York Times officially proclaimed the administration’s changed attitude in a front-page story this morning that ought to send chills down the spine of anyone who believed Barack Obama when he pledged in 2008 that he would be a loyal friend of Israel. In the view of the paper’s Washington correspondents, the moment that signaled what had already been apparent to anyone who was paying attention was the president’s declaration at a Tuesday news conference that resolving the Middle East conflict was “a vital national security interest of the United States.” Mr. Obama went on to state that the conflict is “costing us significantly in terms of blood and treasure,” thus attempting to draw a link between Israel’s attempts to defend itself with the safety of American troops who are fighting Islamist terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world.

By claiming the Arab-Israeli conflict to be a “vital national security interest” that must be resolved, the “frustrated” Obama is making it clear that he will push hard to impose a solution on the parties. The significance of this false argument is that it not only seeks to wrongly put the onus on Israel for the lack of a peace agreement but that it also now attempts to paint any Israeli refusal to accede to Obama’s demands as a betrayal in which a selfish Israel is stabbing America in the back. The response from Obama to this will be, the Times predicts, “tougher policies toward Israel,” since it is, in this view, ignoring America’s interests and even costing American lives.

The problem with this policy is that the basic premise behind it is false. Islamists may hate Israel, but that is not why they are fighting the United States. They are fighting America because they rightly see the West and its culture, values, and belief in democracy as antithetical to their own beliefs and a threat to its survival and growth as they seek to impose their medieval system everywhere they can. Americans are not dying because Israelis want to live in Jerusalem or even the West Bank or even because there is an Israel. If Israel were to disappear tomorrow, that catastrophe would certainly be cheered in the Arab and Islamic world, but it would not end the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, cause Iran to stop its nuclear program, or put al-Qaeda out of business. In fact, a defeat for a country allied with the United States would strengthen Iran and al-Qaeda. But undeterred by the facts and the experience of a generation of failed peace plans that have always foundered not on Israeli intransigence but rather on the absolute refusal of any Palestinian leader to put his signature on a document that will legitimize a Jewish state within any borders, Obama is pushing ahead. In the view of unnamed administration officials who have helpfully explained Obama’s policies to the Times, it is now only a matter of time before the president puts forward his own peace plan. And as the debate on health care illustrated, Obama will attempt to shove his diktat down the throats of the Israelis, whether the vast majority of Americans who support Israel like it or not.

As the Times notes, there is a great irony to Obama’s blazing anger at the Israelis and the urgency with which he views the issue. It comes at a time when the overwhelming majority of Israelis have “become disillusioned with the whole idea of resolving the conflict. Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition government has long been skeptical about the benefits of a peace deal with the Palestinians. But skepticism has taken root in the Israeli public as well, particularly after Israel saw little benefit from its traumatic withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.” In other words, after countless concessions made to the Arabs at Oslo, and in subsequent accords and after offers from Israel of a state comprising Gaza, the West Bank, and parts of Jerusalem were refused by the Palestinians in 2000 and 2008, most Israelis have finally figured out that the other side doesn’t want to end the conflict. And they are baffled as to why Obama and his advisers haven’t come to the same all too obvious conclusion. But with the Obama administration now so passionately committed to hammering Israel even as it apparently neglects to take action to stop Iran’s nuclear program, the question remains what will be the response of pro-Israel Democrats. As Obama draws closer to all-out diplomatic war on Israel’s government, the obligation for principled Democrats to speak up in open opposition to these policies cannot be avoided.

While many Democrats have sought to confuse the issue or avoid conflict with the president, stories such as the one on the front page of the Times this morning make it clear that sooner or later, pro-Israel Democrats are going to have to decide whether partisan loyalties will trump their support for the Jewish state’s survival.

###

15
Apr
10

Britain Bans Israeli Tourism Ad Showing Western Wall

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu – IsraelNN.com,  April 14th, 2010

Britain has banned an Israeli Tourism Ministry ad because it “misleads” the public to think that the Western Wall and Temple Mount are part of the country. The publicity was banned by the government advertising regulator.

Britain, like the United States and most of the international community, do not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the parts of Jerusalem that were restored to Jewish sovereignty during the 1967 Six-Day War.

The “problematic” ad, with the pictures of the holy sites, tells readers that they can “travel the entire length of Israel in six hours.”

The Advertising Standards Authority prohibited the advertisement after receiving a complaint that the pictures show sites that are located in the ”occupied territories” and implies they are part of the country. Israeli Tourism Ministry official said the advertisement contains “accurate information.”

“The status of the occupied territory of the West Bank [is] the subject of much international dispute, and because we considered that the ad implied that the part of East Jerusalem featured in the image was part of the state of Israel, we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead,” the British agency said, as quoted by the London Guardian and Jewish Chronicle.

The Kotel is a remnant of the outer wall of the Temple Mount compound that housed the Jewish Temples for more than 1,000 years, until the year 70 CE. It is the Jewish People’s holiest site.

When British occupying forces left the Land of Israel in 1948, Jordanian forces overran Jewish defenders in the Old City and took the Temple Mount, but there was never any international recognition of Jordan’s sovereignty there. Jordan did not allow Jews into the area. Israel liberated the Old City, including the Temple Mount and Kotel, 19 years later.

Israel advocate Dr. Emmanuel Navon commented Wednesday that “East Jerusalem was never part of a sovereign country in modern times. Either you consider Jordan’s 1949 annexation as illegal and illegitimate and then Israel did not conquer a sovereign land in 1967, or you do consider Jordan’s 1949 annexation as legal and legitimate and then Israel’s 1967 annexation is even more so since it was the result of a war of self-defense and not of aggression.” (IsraelNationalNews.com)